Emergency Medical Dispatch

Emergency Medical Dispatch Emergency Medical Dispatch (EMD) is the essential initial point of contact for callers seeking medical assistance, providing a combination of telecommunications skills and medical instruction. EMD initiates and coordinates the most appropriate emergency medical service response while providing medical assistance to callers over the phone until help arrives.

EMD uses a protocol reference system which is the single-most valuable tool for processing medical calls. EMD reference cards help to determine which questions to ask, resources to dispatch and pre-arrival instructions to provide. The use of standardized and medically approved EMD cards makes the provision of medical information by phone consistent and accurate, delivering accurate information, in the same manner, every time.

Fairfax County's EMD Program is overseen by the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department's Operational Medical Director. The program is adapted from the Association of Public Safety Communications Officials (APCO) Institute's EMD Program, which is based on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's Emergency Medical Dispatch National Standard Curriculum. The Fairfax County EMD Program uses additional information from the American Heart Association's "Guidelines 2000" and "Guidelines 2005," as well as guidelines of the American Society for Testing and Materials and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

When calling 9-1-1 for medical emergencies, you should keep the following information in mind:

  • Answer the dispatcher's questions and follow their instructions, even if they seem excessive.  They are obtaining as much information as possible in order to provide the best emergency medical resources as possible.
  • While emergency medical service units are en route, the dispatcher will assist with patient care until the responders arrive.
Emergency Medical Dispatch (EMD) Questions
  1. Nature of the emergency
  2. Patient's consciousness status
  3. Patient's breathing status
  4. Patient's age and sex
  5. Patient's medical needs

Listen to a simulated EMD call HERE .

The Department of Public Safety Communications is an accredited 9-1-1 public safety answering point (PSAP) with the Virginia Office of EMS Accreditation for PSAPs and 9-1-1 Centers.  This accreditation promotes implementation of EMD protocols and continued training and education.  

VA Office of EMS 



Contact Fairfax County: Phone, Email or Twitter | Main Address: 12000 Government Center Parkway, Fairfax, VA 22035
Technical Questions: Web Administrator

ADA Accessibility | Website Accessibility
Awards | FOIA | Mobile | Using this Site | Web Disclaimer & Privacy Policy | Get Adobe Reader
Official site of the County of Fairfax, Virginia, © Copyright 2013

Website Feedback Website Feedback    Globe with various flags representing Web site language translations   Language Translations

Return to Graphic Version